The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir

The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir
Title: The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir
Author: Michael H. Ward
Publisher: Querelle Press
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Genre(s): Memoir, AIDS, Historical, Non-fiction
Page Count: 204
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

In this insightful and inspirational memoir, Michael Ward returns to the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when so little was known and so few who were diagnosed survived. He chronicles in candid detail his partner Mark’s decline and eventual death. By looking back on these tragic events, the author not only honors a generation lost to the illness but also opens a vital window onto the past, before medication helped save lives and HIV/AIDS was a life sentence.

“The Sea Is Quiet Tonight is about so much more than life and death. It’s a story about how relationships survive when death is close…Michael Ward has written from the heart…”– Catherine Parnell, Consequence magazine

Michael H. Ward is a retired psychotherapist. He was instrumental in the development of The Shared Heart, a book and later project that presents coming out stories of forty gay and lesbian teenagers. Happily married, he lives on Cape Cod with his husband, Moe, and cat, Jack.

“Love and death. For a generation of gay men, love and death were inextricably intertwined. To love in the age of AIDS was to mourn”.

“HIV-positive” is no longer a death sentence. Modern medicines allow many of the infected people to live a long and normal life.
It was different at the beginning of the epidemic, it was a terrible time, not only because the NUMBERS of deaths are so impressively terrifying, but mostly because how little we knew about the disease.

AIDS erased a whole generation of gay men. (By 1994, AIDS was the leading cause of death among Americans ages 25 to 44.) But all these human tragedies remain often just NUMBERS if we are not personally affected. We experienced so many misfortunes, and catastrophes in the world recently, why should we care about events that took place over 30 years ago. Yes, we should and have and need.

The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir is one of those books that makes NUMBERS to FACES.

Michael H. Ward dedicated his debut novel to his partner Mark Halberstadt, who died back in the early eighties, when getting an AIDS diagnose was equal to a death penalty. Sure, there were treatments (most of them very painful for all participants), but before antiviral drugs came on the mark, all these treatments were just delaying the inevitable.

It is an autobiographical non-fictional book, that can be though read as a fictional book. The author did a great job in conveying the atmosphere of the early days of the epidemic but also giving insights in his private life at that time. The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir is about two men who met, fell in love, and stayed together up to an inescapable end, a story about a difficult relationship, with all of its ups and downs, before and during the plague.

It is a good written and very personal book about love, life and death.

I really enjoyed reading it, even if the word enjoy sounds out of place in this context.

Comparing to Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette maybe less painful – though you won’t be able to read it with dry eyes – but very emotional, realistic, honest, heartbreaking, intimate and… yes, also very beautiful.

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Galley copy of The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: A Memoir provided by the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I'm a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.